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Europe

Oldest European Man Turns 112

British World War I veteran Henry Allingham, who is Europe's oldest man, celebrated his 112th birthday on Friday. His tips for longevity might not make health professionals very happy.

Happy Birthday candles on a cake

There comes a point when there's hardly space for all the candles

Allingham marked his birthday on Friday, June 6, by attending a flypast of fighter aircraft from the Battle of Britain. He saw active service in the Battle of Jutland in World War I and was one of the first members of the RAF.

Born in 1896, when the first modern Olympics were held in Athens and Queen Victoria still had some five years left on the British throne, Allingham worked for carmaker Ford in civilian life.

He now lives in a home for blind former military personnel and said he's in robust health.

"I'm a lucky guy," he said. "I am looking forward to a wonderful day and to seeing the family. I just hope I don't let the side down. People ask me how I've done it, and I just say that I look forward to another tomorrow."

A zest for life

Eight of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their partners have travelled from their homes in the United States for the occasion. Allingham's wife of 51 years, Dorothy, died in 1970.

Allingham said he believed his longevity came from "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women."

But his close friend, Dennis Goodwin, who founded an association for World War I veterans, paid tribute to Allingham's zest for life.

"He is simply an incredible man," Goodwin said. "Each year we think that maybe this will be his last but he just seems to carry on regardless."

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